The Mediterranean is a 3.02 million km² tributary sea of the Atlantic Ocean between southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It is connected to the Atlantic Ocean by the Strait of Gibraltar and to the Indian Ocean by the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. The Mediterranean includes the Adriatic Sea, Aegean Sea, Marmara Sea and Black Sea, which is connected by the Bosphorus. The formative Mediterranean climate prevails throughout the Mediterranean region.
Location and structure
The Mediterranean is an intercontinental tributary of the Atlantic Ocean between Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (Fig. 1).
It covers an area of 3.02 million km² and a water volume of 4.38 million km³.
The Mediterranean is connected by the strategically important Strait of Gibraltar, a 14 to 44 km wide and 60 km long strait between Europe and Africa, with the Atlantic Ocean and with the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.
Large marginal seas are the Adriatic Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Marmara Sea and the Black Sea, while smaller ones are the Ligurian, Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas.
Furthermore, the Mediterranean can be divided into the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. The border forms a submarine threshold running from Sicily to North Africa.
Geologically, the Mediterranean Sea is in a fracture zone. It lies on the border between the Eurasian plate and the African plate drifting towards it. The numerous volcanoes and the relative frequency of earthquakes in the Mediterranean area are evidence of these crustal movements, which have persisted since the Tertiary period (Fig. 2).
The Mediterranean Sea has an average depth of 1450 m. The deepest point is at 5121 m in the eastern part, west of the Peloponnese.
The water has a high salinity. In the western Mediterranean it is 36.3 grams per liter, in the eastern even 39.1 grams more than in the Atlantic. This is due to the low freshwater influx from the relatively few large rivers that flow into it and the high level of evaporation in the eastern Mediterranean.
The water level is a little lower than that of the neighboring seas. As a result, in the Strait of Gibraltar as well as in the Dardanelles and in the Bosphorus, a balancing current on the surface and a counter-flowing deep current are created. The Bosporus also separates Europe from Asia.
Currents, but especially the tides, are weak in the Mediterranean because of its isolation from the world’s oceans.
Climate and vegetation
The climate in the Mediterranean area is distinctive. That is why the Mediterranean climate is a type of climate that can also be found in other regions of the world, a climate that is characterized by mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
The amount of precipitation decreases in the Mediterranean area from west to east.
In general, there are weak winds in summer. Exceptions are the Etesien, which occur particularly in the Aegean and which often reach storm strength.
In winter, which is influenced by low pressure areas, warm south winds, such as sirocco, or cold north winds, such as mistral or bora, occur in the western and central part of the Mediterranean.
The climate shapes the flora of the region. The original vegetation is characterized by evergreen hardwoods with conifers and oaks, especially stone and cork oaks. They have small, leathery leaves coated with a layer of wax that can withstand evaporation. Remnants of the former forest have only survived in a few places due to human interference. In its place is a scrub forest, the maquis, which in turn is displaced by shrub formations. The olive tree is a key plant in the Mediterranean region. The frost-sensitive, but otherwise tough and undemanding tree was already cultivated and revered in ancient times (Fig. 4).
The surface water of the Mediterranean is relatively poor in nutrients and therefore not particularly rich in fish. The main industry is coastal fishing for tuna, anchovy, sardine, lobster, octopus, oysters and sponges.
The very high level of water pollution is problematic . The Mediterranean is one of the most heavily polluted marine areas in the world (Fig. 5). The pollution is caused, among other things, by the discharge of untreated wastewater from industries and cities as well as by the dumping of waste and the flushing of oil tanks in the open sea. Shipping traffic was already very dense in ancient times. The Suez Canal is one of the most important shipping routes in the world, and trade with the Mediterranean countries also brings enormous traffic volumes.
Mediterranean area is the collective name for the Mediterranean Sea and the countries surrounding it. The area is considered the cradle of western culture. Even before the Greeks and Romans, other peoples, e.g. B. the Phoenicians and the Egyptians, great empires. In the Middle Ages, important trading cities emerged on the Mediterranean, including Venice, Genoa and Pisa.